36 Weeks!

36 weeks!!!

I am amazed that ten weeks ago I was at the hospital being evaluated for preterm labor. If you had told me I was going to make it at least another ten weeks, I’m not sure I would have believed it. We are sooo thankful. In fact, last week I “graduated” from the preterm labor high risk program! I received my last Progesterone shot in the butt and went happily on my way.

These past few weeks have been anything but uneventful, though. During week 34 I was in and out of triage four times. A few days after I made it to 34 weeks (when Mariah was delivered), I started having crazy contractions. At first, I thought they were just Braxton Hicks, but they quickly grew more intense and frequent.  I was monitored several times and received hormone shots just to make sure our baby’s lungs and brain would be developed enough. At one point I was having contractions every four minutes for several hours and I thought FOR SURE I was going to deliver that day. Nope.

While I didn’t love the idea of going into labor at 34 weeks, it sure sounded better than labor at 26 weeks, so I was doing okay. The real concern came when I received a call from the hospital one night. The doctor called to tell me that they decided to send my urine sample out for a culture and that it came back positive for Group B Strep (GBS). I won’t lie, I had a minor breakdown. All those memories of Mariah in the NICU came flooding back instantaneously.

Group B Strep is actually fairly common. Many women are carriers and don’t even know it. Obviously I am a carrier and my doctors are very aware of that. In fact, I’ve already tested positive once (at 4 months) in this pregnancy and taken antibiotics for it. The reason it scared me so much last week was because of the contractions I was having. It was exactly like what happened with Mariah. Somehow Mariah contracted the bacteria in the womb and I went into preterm labor because my body wanted her out. Soon after being born, she started with the convulsions, 105F fever, organs shutting down, etc.

Obviously, my first concern was that this baby had already contracted the bacteria and my body was going into labor to get him out. I wanted to go in right then and there and have a c-section to get him out. The doctors weren’t so sure though. They said what happened to Mariah was so incredibly rare that the possibility of it happening again was almost impossible. Okay. Deep breaths. Get it together. Reread your own blog about overcoming high-risk pregnancy fears.

After an hour or so (and a good cry), I took it to the Lord and He gave me an overwhelming peace. He is in control and I trust Him- whatever His plan is. For now, I will be on oral antibiotics until I deliver and then I will be placed on IV antibiotics. When he is born, he will be monitored for infection and will receive antibiotics if necessary.

Pregnancy is such a thing for me. Such a test of faith. Such a constant reminder that I am not in control. The fact that I’ve made it past 36 weeks is bringing me some serious joy right now though. The fact that God has it all in His hands brings me even more joy. I’m still having contractions, so we’ll see what happens over the next couple of weeks. Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me and our sweet baby during these crazy times!

 

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Overcoming High-Risk Pregnancy Fears

Pregnancy is scary.

I always thought I would be one of those unicorn women that handled maternity like a boss. Those women whose bodies were just made for baby-making and who a few hours after sneezing out their newborn babes are jumping out of their birthing pools and whipping up a meal for supper. Kind of like Brooklyn Decker pregnant with twins in What to Expect When You’re Expecting when she’s wearing 4 inch heels while talking about how she’s full of energy and always super horny.

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I know that’s Hollywood, but we all know some magical unicorns like that, right?

To be honest, I’ve had to work through a lot of uncertainty and fear. I’m impressed by my friends that have had their babies at home or in a plastic pool, but after what happened with Mariah, you couldn’t pay me enough to have my baby in any place that doesn’t have a state of the art NICU down the hall.  Given, my track record isn’t exactly stellar. I had a miscarriage at the beginning of our marriage and then another miscarriage between Mariah and the baby I’m carrying now. I went into labor with Mariah at 33 weeks and she eventually came at 34 weeks and we almost lost her to a horrible Strep B infection.

When I found out I was pregnant with this baby, I was terrified. God and I had to have a serious conversation because I was literally crippled with fear about having another miscarriage (maybe someday I’ll post about that convo). I am 26 weeks now and I’ve wrestled hard with fear. Fear of miscarrying, fear of preterm labor, fear of babies hooked up to monitors and filled with tubes in the NICU.

Then, this past Tuesday, I had to face my fear again. I am in the high-risk pregnancy program and each week I receive a Progesterone shot and either see a specialist or have a cervical length ultrasound. So far, I’ve been measuring great with no issues. This week, however, my cervical measurement had decreased by 50% and then I started having some cramping and discomfort.

I was so very discouraged. When the ultrasound tech left the room and said she needed to talk to the doctor, I barely kept it together. I mean, this baby is supposed to stay in there for three more months!

It was just scary. I was sent up to be fit into the high-risk doctor’s schedule and he checked to make sure I wasn’t dilating. Then he sent me home to wait two days to see if things progressed. Those were some long days.

Finally, one morning as I was praying, this thought came to mind: If you really trust God, why are you so afraid? 

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I know that God is perfect love and that perfect love casts out fear. If God loves me perfectly, there is no room for fear. I know that He is always in every detail, whether something goes the way I want it to or not. I became incredibly aware of the fact that our every breath is in God’s hands when He decided to inflate Mariah’s lungs that night despite what the doctors were saying. I also became incredibly aware that He could have chosen not to inflate her lungs and that I had no control over that.

The same goes with this pregnancy. I can do everything in my power to have a healthy pregnancy and the doctors will do as much as they can, but ultimately, it’s out of our hands. If God wants this baby to come at 26 weeks, then he’ll come at 26 weeks. I may not be in love with that idea, but God loves me perfectly, so I can trust that He will see us through and that His plan is far better than ours.

That is freedom from fear.

Knowing that something is scary, but acknowledging that the One who loves us perfectly has it in His hands.

Friday I went back to the hospital and had a bunch of tests done. I was extremely relieved to find out that as of right now, everything is holding tight. My cervix hasn’t thinned anymore and the cramping is due to the baby’s head being right on the cervix and surrounding nerves. So we wait and try to keep that baby cooking for as many weeks as possible.

Obviously, we are overjoyed that all is well for now. But I’m also resting in the fact that even if I do have this baby tomorrow, it’s not a scary surprise for my heavenly Father. Every time fear starts creeping in, I try to focus on His perfect love and that He cares far more about my babies than I ever could.  I can remain steadfast because I trust in Him and His perfect love for me and my family. I’ve found that true freedom is being able to say “I trust you Lord, do it your way.”

Job 12: 10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Psalm 31:14-15 But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My life is in your hands… 

Costa Ricans vs. Cold Weather

Seeing as the average annual temperature in Costa Rica is between 70-80 degrees, it’s no wonder the Ticos have a bit of a warped concept of cold weather. Here are some of my favorite examples:

  1. It is incredibly common to see a baby wearing fleece pajamas, wrapped in fleece blankets, and wearing a cotton hat on days that it is 75 degrees.
  2. Hats, gloves, and coats on children and adults alike are more than acceptable for any temperature under 65 degrees.
  3. Children shouldn’t go barefoot because it is incredibly unhealthy for them to walk on “cold” tile floors.
  4. You should never change a baby out of their pajamas when they first wake up because their body needs time to adjust to the morning “chill.”

Taking these things into consideration, naturally there was some concern as to how Albin, Mariah, and our dogs were going to adjust to the winter weather. I mean, in CR Mariah was pretty used to running around half-naked and barefoot (until sundown of course) and our dogs would shiver indoors if it was anything below 60 degrees outdoors.

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First snow!

We get asked all. the. time. from people how everyone is adjusting to Ohio winters. The answer: we should all thank God I’m not from Minnesota.

My favorite quote from Albin about the cold so far has been, “It goes straight through your pants and right to your bones.” Yes Albin, yes it does.

Mariah seemed unaffected at first, but is clearly annoyed by the amount of clothing she is required to wear these days. She has also been known to hang out by the heat vents.  In regards to snow, she was impressed at first until she actually went outside. Ten minutes later she was back in the house crying about her hands being cold.

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Just hanging around the heat vent

The dogs? Well I think they hate us. They mainly hang out in front of a space heater.

The irony? I’ve become the biggest wimp of them all. I’m always cold. Go figure.

The good news is that God knows and has blessed us with some really mild weather for January. Clearly in His mercy, He knew we’d need some unseasonably warm days to give us hope that we can survive in this frozen tundra bahaha.

So here’s to hot chocolate, heat vents, and warmer mittens for Mariah. May we all come out hardier on the other side ;).

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Warming our buns…

 

Raising our Kids with a “Legacy List”

As we start a new year, I’ve inevitably begun thinking about things I want for this coming year. Since my  track record with New Year’s resolutions is shaky at best (ie. thinking I’d do the whole 30 diet for all of January was a joke last year), I’m trying to keep it simple this year.

Over a year ago, I posted a list of legacies I wanted to live out with my family. That post must have struck a cord with a lot of parents out there because it received a lot of blog love. That list is obviously near and dear to my heart as well, so I wanted to revisit it to remind myself for the coming year. Not only that, but I would love to give you some ideas for how to make your own legacy list.

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Make Your List

My list was comprised of 10 values we wanted for our kids. I could have brainstormed a longer list, but I kept the list to 10 so I could prioritize and not be overwhelmed by setting an unattainable amount of goals. I picked an overarching statement: “I want my kids to grow up knowing how to love well” and based my top 10 off of that. Choose priorities for your family based on your main goal. For us, faith is a top priority, so that took the first couple slots. The rest are characteristics and values that we hope will teach them to love God, love others, and love who they’ve been created to be. Here is my list:

  1. Worshipers of God
  2. Live out the gospel 
  3. Adventurers and explorers
  4. Culturally-aware
  5. Family time to be important and fun
  6. Individuals
  7. Respectful
  8. Hard-workers that know making mistakes is okay.
  9. A sense of humor
  10. Little givers

Explain What Each Item Looks Like 

You don’t have to go into a lot of depth here, but it’s good to verbalize what each priority looks like in everyday life. It’s easy to say you want “respectful kids”, but how would you define that? Jot down a few ideas for how this might look so that you’ll be able to set clear goals for how to attain a certain value. Here is an example of one of mine:

We want culturally-aware kids. Obviously, we love cultures and love learning about them. We

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Paella at a Spanish Restaurant

want our kids to appreciate our Costa Rican and American cultures; but we also want them to have a love for all people. We hope they want to learn new customs, try new foods, learn new languages, and see new places. Obviously, we won’t allow racism in our house, but we want it to go above and beyond that–which means showing our kids how to be open-minded, accepting of cultural differences, and interested in the lives of others that are different from us.

 

Explain How to Instill Each Value

This is where you get to put your desires into action. I’d imagine you can des-

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Our daughter and foster son

ire to be a really great parent, but that desire has to be paired with action. After each priority and it’s description, I included a practical way that Albin and I were going to try to instill each value in our kids. Here is an example from our hope that our kids would learn to live out
the gospel like Jesus did:

We want this to be like second nature to them, so we’ve started to live like this: stopping to give away groceries to people begging, fostering needy kids, going onto the streets on Saturdays to talk with the hopeless, finding ways we can stand up for justice, etc.

 

The Results After One Year

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Scarlet Macaws at an Animal Refuge Adventure

Amazing. I am incredibly thankful I made this list because it helped our family live out so many things during 2016 that we may not have made a priority otherwise. For example, we want our kids to be adventurers and explorers. To make that a reality, we started going on at least one family adventure a month. We started planning our monthly adventures and putting them on the calendar and they quickly became a priority. As a result, we made some amazing family memories and we looked forward to time together.

So as we look forward to 2017, I’m excited about our little family and about being a parent. I love that God entrusted me with little lives to care for and I want to do that to the best of my ability. This little list has helped me set and meet attainable “goals” for our family, and as I look back over our progress, I’ve seen my own confidence as a mom be raised. Some days are great and some days I feel like I’m failing, but I’m reminded that all those days are worth cherishing.

There’s More to the Story

Three months.

That’s how long we’ve been back in the U.S. and squatting at my parents’ house. We have loved being here with family, experiencing fall, and just resting- but I’m sure it’s not a surprise that the transition has been difficult as well. There is a lot to process, a myriad of emotions, and a lot of uncertainty. I’d like to think it is culture shock, but there’s nothing really shocking about where we’re at right now.

Recently Al and I have been in a weird place. While we love being here and are so thankful for my parents’ willingness to let us live here, we are wondering why we’re here and what is next. We feel like God told us to come back to the U.S.- specifically to Atlanta. He worked out everything for us to come back in amazing ways, but now that we’re here, we’re a little lost.

We don’t feel like we can move to Atlanta quite yet because I’m 20 weeks pregnant and I have to see my high-risk specialist weekly due to what happened when Mariah was born. We don’t feel like we can settle down here and have Al get a real job because we feel like we’re supposed to go to Atlanta. Several doors have closed for temporary jobs for Albin. Our house hasn’t sold in Costa Rica despite numerous people interested. The position we hoped for in Atlanta as houseparents is no longer an option since my due date is a day before the position was to begin.

It’s just confusing.

We’ve found ourselves huddling up with the Lord and asking Him what is going on. A little part of our hearts has wondered if maybe we didn’t hear Him correctly about the whole moving back thing. Why would He take us away from our community, our fostering ministry, our house, etc. and then bring us here to do seemingly nothing? It feels like we’re wasting precious time. We know the Lord has called us to open up our home and our family to those without families, but we can’t do that being unemployed and in a temporary living situation. It just doesn’t make sense right now.

Yesterday morning we had planned to try a new Hispanic church in hopes of finding some Spanish speaking community. We didn’t end up making it to church because Mariah woke up in the middle of night vomiting everywhere. Instead, we decided to listen to a sermon and God spoke straight to our hearts through it. The pastor spoke about how there is always more to the story than what is currently seen. It’s easy to get caught up on a “scene” of our story, rather than the whole story itself. We can’t possibly know how God is working in our little steps of faith to set the future in motion. He is constantly working in our lives to make our story much grander than we could have imagined.

That was a great reminder for us last night. This “scene” in our lives seems a little anti-climactic and. it’s. okay. This is only part of our story and God is setting things in motion because we stepped out in faith. I am ashamed to admit I’ve kind of been like the Israelites in the desert; whenever things got rough, they asked God why He brought them out of Egypt if they were just going to starve, die of thirst, etc. They had seen Him part the Red Sea and do tons of miracles, yet they were worried that He wouldn’t provide for them. It’s incredibly easy to judge them until  I realize that God worked everything out for us to move back and we’ve seen Him do miracles, yet the moment things look a little confusing, I start asking if it wouldn’t have been better if He’d just left us in CR. Lame.

So that’s where we’re at. I have hope that someday I will look back on this post and be able to testify that this period of transition in our lives was just a part of the story. I know God will fulfill His purpose for us and I’m resting in that.

Psalm 138:8

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re Back…with a Little Surprise

Well, we made it to America. I just might have teared up when we went through immigration in Atlanta and Albin was welcomed as a legal resident. I mean, it took a lot of work to get here, so the tears may have been merited…but I’ve also been pretty emotional these days. About two weeks before we left Costa Rica, I was working on insurance paperwork and had to answer a question about whether or not I was pregnant. I hesitated for a hot second on that question. I’d been really tired, but I figured it was because of the whole moving to another country thing. Nope. I took a pregnancy test and that double line showed up loud and clear.

We were pretty surprised, but then again, God seems to like throwing us a curve ball or two. Keeps life interesting. We’re excited though. Just embracing the transition in Ohio and trying to survive morning (all day) sickness. I’m 14 weeks and praying the nausea and vomiting calms down soon- but most of all, thankful for a healthy pregnancy. Despite wanting to puke my guts out most of the time, we’ve had fun. We made a trip to Chicago, went camping , and I’ve been able to introduce Albin and Mariah to all things fall. Mariah celebrated her second birthday here and is enjoying being spoiled rotten by my family. It’s nice to have free baby-sitters as I’ve milked my first trimester for all its worth. As far as our future plans- they are a little up in the air right now because this new baby might change our timeline, but we’re trusting God with the details.

One of these days I’m going to post about transitioning back to the U.S., but I just wanted to put a quick update out there and announce our exciting news. God is always so good.

 

Saying Good-Bye to our Fuzzy Foster Baby

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The fostering agency we work with asked us to create a photo album to document the last nine months we’ve had with our foster son. As I was looking for quotes to put in the album, I came across the one above and it stuck with me because soon we’ll be saying good bye to our fuzzy foster baby. He is almost 10 months old now and we’ve had him since birth. The tiny, premature, five pound little bundle that was handed to me nine months ago is now a thriving and happy baby ninja who literally does not stop moving and surprises us every day with his stealthiness. Of all the countries and islands and babies in the world, we were given him. It has truly been a privilege.

Over the next week or so, he will be transitioning to another family as we are not allowed to bring him to the U.S. and as I mentioned previously, Costa Rican Social Services doesn’t allow foster families to adopt (of course we tried). As I prepared his album, I was thinking about what a privilege it was to have spent these last nine months with him. It hasn’t always been easy, and it most definitely won’t be easy to see him go, but God allowed us to meet him and raise him for this period of time on purpose. Of all the babies and all the families, somehow we ended up together and I pray that the time we had with him created a foundation in him that will set him up for blessing in the future.

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There are a lot of emotions surrounding saying good bye, but most of all we’re thankful for and humbled by the privilege of being a part of J’s life.  Many people make comments about how he should be ours and how unfair it all is, but truly, he never was ours. God entrusted him to us for a time and God is far more aware of J’s care than we are. So we entrust him back into the hands of the perfect Father, knowing that God is more than able to guard what was always His anyway.

Of course it’s a struggle. We knew it was going to be hard when we signed up to foster. Naturally it is heartbreaking to give him up, but it is more than worth it. It is far more important that J learn how to form an attachment than it is for our family to protect ourselves from the pain of losing that attachment. Rather than laying in a crib all day in an orphanage, he was a part of a family that taught him how to love and be loved. In all sincerity, we didn’t always have perfect attitudes and we definitely had days we were exhausted and questioned why we volunteered to foster, but there were far more good days than bad. We know he’s too little to remember us, but we know that the rocking him in the middle of the night, the physical therapy we gave him several times a day, the word of God being read to him at bedtime, and the love showered on him by us and those around us have profoundly stimulated his physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual development.

So we have a lot of peace. We’re reminded that life isn’t about us. It’s about Him. If He asks us to receive a newborn and then give that baby up ten months later, we will. If He asks us to move to another country with only a vague idea of what He is calling us to, we will. We trust that God has all of this in His hands and that He has incredible and unimaginable plans for both J and our family. We can move forward knowing that while we didn’t do everything perfectly, we did our best to do what God asked us to do and walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:5-6). We have learned so much, grown in incredible ways, opened our hearts and our home, died to ourselves over and over again, laughed a lot, cried a little, loved well, and have tried to bring a little more of God’s kingdom to earth.

We love you and will miss you J!

J 9 meses

 

Traveling with Toddlers

Back when I was a parenting expert (before I had kids, obviously), I was totally judgmental of those moms whose kids were throwing tantrums in public. I often thought, “I will never allow my kids to act like that.”

Then I became I parent.

A few weeks ago, Mariah and I flew home for my sister’s engagement and my kid was that kid. I mean, I guess I thought traveling was in her blood and that the whole ordeal would be a piece of cake. In my head, my strong-willed, squirmy, on-her-own-program, 18-month old daughter would sit calmly in my lap for six hours and enjoy our relaxing travel day without complaint.

I was so very wrong. No amount of fun little activities I had painstakingly stuffed into our carry-on could tame the beast. The back-arching, bloody-murder-screaming version of Mariah had decided to join me that day. My first mistake was booking a super early flight and thinking Mariah would just fall asleep because she was so tired. She entered into the dreaded overtired, crank mode and let me hear about it up until she finally fell asleep on the first flight AS THE PLANE WAS LANDING. My second mistake was thinking that the cute little teddy backpack with a leash on it was a good idea. Independent toddlers don’t do leashes. Most of the time she was trying to turn around to get it off her and the one time we actually made forward progress, she tripped and I accidentally ended up dragging her a few steps. I felt like that terrible mom on CNN. We promptly trashed the leash after that little disaster.

My third mistake was thinking that a two hour layover was long enough to get through immigration in Miami. The sweet businessman who tried to help me with my screaming child was kind enough to point out my folly. Apparently Miami has a horrible reputation for immigration lines. As we inched through the turnstiles, Mariah became more and more agitated and it became more and more apparent that we were going to miss our flight. Then, my toddler just completely and mercilessly lost it. Flashbacks of me judging other moms paraded before my eyes as I watched my offspring scream and roll on the floor. As I looked on totally defeated and attempted to pretend Mariah was someone else’s kid, the woman behind me said, “It’s humbling, huh?” She went on to say she had five kids but today she was traveling alone and that she totally felt my pain. God bless her. I was humbled and so thankful she wasn’t looking at me with judgey-eyes.

Right then, an immigration officer came up to me and said, “Ma’am, you can go to the front.” I’m pretty sure my eyes filled with grateful tears. “Thank you,” I gushed, “I am about to miss my flight!” Her rude reply, and I kid you not, was: “I’m not letting you go to the front because you’re about to miss your flight, I’m letting you go because your kid is screaming.”  (Thank you, Mariah).

So we made it to our flight on time. I was pouring sweat from hightailing it across the airport with my chunky kid in her demented umbrella stroller (it’s a piece of crap) and a huge diaper bag, but we made it. We boarded the plane and ended up getting stuck on the tarmac for an hour. Just about the time I started regretting my decision to not take Pinterest’s advice and make goody-bags to beg for mercy from the innocent passengers around us, the captain said we were cleared and we took off. And she slept. Praise Jesus, she slept.

My fourth mistake was sharing a hotel room with my parents while we were in DC. Mariah was obviously out of sorts and wasn’t sleeping well. One night she had two night terrors. I’m pretty positive she woke up the whole Hampton Inn both times. She wakes up screaming and you can’t get her to calm down because she’s not really awake. It takes about twenty minutes for it to pass. The first time, as I’m trying to calm her down, my dad rolls over in his bed and tries to say something but it comes out totally incoherent. I believe he asked, “Well, is she in bed or not?”

What does that even mean? My mom told him to shut up and go back to sleep. Mom and I finally calmed her down and she fell back asleep. Two hours later, she woke up screaming again. This time, my totally rational father asks if we realize people are trying to sleep. No dad, I didn’t. In fact, I pinched her so she would scream and wake everyone up. Then my favorite question came:  “Id see poop?” My mom and I looked at each other. “Did he say ‘poop?’” He swallowed and said it more clearly, “Did she poop?”

What da heck? “What does that have to do with anything?” I snapped. He “reasoned” that maybe she woke up screaming because she was constipated. Obviously. Because toddlers always have night terrors when they haven’t pooped.

Anyway, we finally calmed Mariah (and my dad) down and got back in bed. Suddenly my mom started with the sniffly-giggles. She was laughing so hard the bed was shaking. She started imitating my dad, hissing “Id see poop?” and I lost it. We were howling with laughter. My dad twitched and told us to “sut-up” from the other bed. This sent us into another fit of hysterics that surely had the neighbors asking for a full refund the next morning. We were a hot mess.

The good news is we all survived. My sister said yes, we had a great weekend, and yes, Mariah did poop (I know you were worried). I was definitely humbled by my toddler being that kid on the plane, in the airport, in the hotel, etc, etc., but I guess I had it coming for my pre-mom self giving judgey-eyes to other people.  Now that I am so very aware of how little of a parenting expert I actually am, there is so much less pressure to be perfect and so much more grace for the eternity of mom fails I commit daily (sigh of relief).

To all the moms out there who just said, “Amen”: don’t beat yourself up. You are doing enough. Sometimes you’ve done all you can do and your kid will still go buck wild in an airport here and there. And to those who aren’t parent yet, take this as a reminder to have compassion in those moments.

 

Fuzzy Farts in Church

My last post was so heavy with our loss that I’m in need of some comic relief … and today it comes from our fuzzy foster baby’s tiny butt during a church service.

But first, a question: Do all babies have the capacity to fart far louder than it would seem possible for their little bodies? Or is it just because the milk allergy has wreaked havoc on my kids’ poor intestines?

So Albin has always had a semi-irrational fear of Mariah letting out a huge, hairy fart in the middle of a sermon. He’s mentioned it to me quite a few times. Recently, that not-so-irrational fear was realized.

We were visiting a friend’s church for their baby’s dedication ceremony. During the service, one of our friends who was sitting two rows behind us came and asked to hold Fuzzy and I obliged but whispered an ominous warning about Fuzzy being a ticking time bomb due to his milk allergy.

About fifteen minutes into the sermon, the congregation had settled into a respectful silence as they digested the pastor’s words. Just as I started down the road of my own thoughtful pondering, I was startled by the sound of a huge, sick-nasty fart ripping through the air. I immediately recognized that juicy, forceful, grown man-caliber flatulence as coming from 15 pound Fuzzy and I lost it. I instantly reverted back to the fifth grade version of myself and got the laughy-shakes. You know, the ones you can’t stop even if you try. I tried to do a sly glance back at my friends which proved to be a terrible decision because seeing her hold him away from her in case he were to blow made me laugh even more.

Just when I thought maybe I was just uber-sensitive to my own kid’s fart-noise and thought maybe not many people had noticed, Fuzzy let out his signature poop grunt that never fails to draw attention. And then of course, not one to disappoint, he reared again and forced out another grunt from the depths of his soul. At this point, I was a lost cause. I don’t know how the guy sitting in the row between ours kept it together, especially as I tried and miserably failed to be a respectable adult.

As I tried to compose myself, I heard my friend’s husband hissing, “Tricia, help!” I turned around and saw that as she held Fuzzy’s rear away from her white shirt, a stream of spit-up started flowing out of his other end. Now we were causing a scene. I grabbed my diaper bag and my kid and made for my escape while avoiding eye contact with anyone.

The best part: Albin wasn’t there. He had just taken Mariah out because she was also causing a scene (trying to grab the guy in front of us). No fear, as I passed Albin, I conveyed my stinky story and he also lost it.

Unfortunately, this church is still being built, so the service was actually being held outdoors in a big tent … which means there are currently no real toilets. No way in heck was I going to try to clean up the poop explosion in a sweltering porta-potty with no baby station.  I opted for our trunk. At least then I wouldn’t be subjected to Fuzzy’s stench AND the rest of the crowd’s Costa Rican sun-ripened waste rotting in the plastic latrine.

I had a “mom fail” and in my rush to get to church on time, I forgot to bring the little changing cover thing, so he had to be changed directly on the trunk fabric. Just as I laid him down in the back and got my adult on, I saw we had a full-blown explosion on our hands. There was poop up his back all the way to his neck. It was everywhere. The worst is when you have to take off their onesies after these explosions. The mess is hard to contain as you try to wiggle their squirming arms out of those tiny sleeves. And then you have to get it over their head without somehow pasting poop all over their shoulders and grazing their hair. By now, Fuzzy was wailing. He had poop all over every extremity (I failed getting his soiled pants off as well), and the more he wiggled, the more he rubbed his excrement deep into the trunk fabric and all over his body.

Just when I thought I had been completely defeated, the wind picked up and started blowing the poopy wipes all over the trunk and the baby. I started frantically grabbing the wipes, forgetting that the makeshift bathroom had no sink to wash my now poop-encrusted hands.

Somehow, I managed to change the baby into new clothes and clean up the trunk with half a box of wipes. I grabbed the sandwich-sized Ziploc bag we used for our toll coins, stuffed his clothes in and left them to steam in the back of our boiling car (puke). I put Fuzzy in the football hold since I wasn’t convinced the wipes had truly gotten the poo off my hands and trudged over to the porta-potty looking for some sort of running water source. I was a hot mess. I was sweating profusely (no surprise there) and flushed from the exertion. Near the outhouse, there was a man with a bucket of water who looked at me pitifully and tried to help by pouring water over my hands.

Needless to say, we left church early and Albin howled with laughter all the way home. It also goes without saying that I didn’t even try to salvage the steamed Ziploc baggy and its contents. To whoever lent me that shirt for him: sorry, not sorry, it went straight to the trash.

While poop explosions are nothing new for this mom of two kids with milk allergies, this one probably takes the cake for most despicable, but also the most hilarious. You might think we’re juvenile, but God knows there is nothing like a great poop story to give Albin and me a good soul-cleansing belly laugh.

 

What I Envisioned for My Life vs. Reality

This week I got a serious personal reality check when I was supposed to be giving some advice to a friend. As I typed a message out to her, I became increasingly aware of how close the topic hit home in my heart. She had written something about how it is difficult to submit our dreams, hopes, and desires to God’s authority.  As I told her what I thought she needed to do (i.e. surrender her dreams to God), I felt increasingly aware of my hypocrisy. 

I have so many goals, dreams, and desires. A lot of them are great, God-honoring, kingdom-bringing, world-changing desires. My problem is when God isn’t making those desires happen on my timetable, I feel discouraged, impatient, or frustrated. I know what I have envisioned for my life; but why does my reality not look like that? I put a lot of pressure on myself to do big things, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But while I’m fretting over what I’m not doing, I’m missing the joy I can have about the things I am doing. Sometimes I feel that if I’m not the president of World Vision, setting up tents in my backyard for refugees, AND adopting every child without a family in the world, I’m not doing anything. I start to minimize the ministry that I have to my daughter, our foster baby, my husband, and our neighbors. I feel like praying for my friends serving in ministries and supporting them financially isn’t enough and that I should be there fighting in the trenches with them.

And then God asked me … do you trust Me enough to surrender to My plans for your life?

My answer: yes, but Your plans involve me bringing total world peace, right?

So, my daughter is pretty strong-willed. She thinks her little 15-month-old self knows what is best. I love that kid more than life itself, which is why I don’t let her do everything she thinks is best (like sticking millipedes in her mouth. Yes, that happened). Sometimes I just randomly shout out, “I’m in charge here!” She then gives me that one going on sixteen adolescent look that says, “I got this, lady.”

Sometimes, I think that I probably sound like my 15-month-old when I’m talking to God. He’s telling me that He’s in charge and knows what best and I’m hollering back, “I GOT THIS!”

As I’ve prayed about this particular flavor of sin in my life, I’ve realized I need to surrender to His plans. For some people, those plans include being the president of World Vision, but am I going to be content if God’s plans for me are less-noticeable, not in-the-spotlight ministries? Will I submit to changing poopy diapers and be okay with not writing a book and saving every bicultural marriage today? Yes, because I’m realizing that those visions of grandeur need to be surrendered; that’s where true life is found. When I lay down my self-envisioned life, only then will I truly find the abundant life Jesus promises. Maybe my reality doesn’t look exactly how I thought it would look, but if I’m submitting to His plans, it will be exactly what God wanted for His kingdom. And really, at the end of the day, that is all that matters.

Maybe someday soon I will adopt all the orphans, direct a global ministry, and house all of the refugees. But for now, I’m going to be faithful in what God has for me today.

“I found my life when I laid it down.” –Hillsong, “Touch the Sky”